Call me crazy but the last thing brand new businesses should do is spend thousands on a new website.
We’re a web design agency. We charge thousands for websites. You might think we’re a tad strange for dissuading brand new businesses from investing in us. But there’s method to the madness.
This isn’t something we’ve come up with on a whim. Every phone call or enquiry we get now, we ask: are you a brand new business?
What Do We Mean By Brand New Business?
We define a brand new business as business owners who have never owned a business before. We often design websites for business owners starting a new venture, but that’s slightly different. We’re talking about people who are completely new to business.
Do We Not Trust New Business Owners?
Of course we do! Everyone starts off as a new business owner. We started off as new business owners. This isn’t about not having faith in your business. It’s about doing you a disservice.
When we set up our first business we invested thousands in a website and we made HUGE errors that cost us both financially and emotionally. All worked out well in the end. But at the time, we would’ve appreciated someone telling us straight: investing thousands in a website right now might not work.
I’m going to tell you why investing a boat-load of money into a new business website might not be a good idea.
You’ve Got to Test Your Idea
Ideas are wonderful, aren’t they? Sometimes they just pop into our heads at the most inopportune times (usually when you don’t have a pen) and they light a fire within us.
You might think you’ve got a great idea, but do people fully understand what you’re offering? Are they willing to pay you money for it? Is the business viable long term? You’ve got to test your idea out first.
How to Test Your Idea
1. Start by setting up a cheap website
Yup. That is what we recommend! In fact, Martin tells you how to set up a cheap website in his blog post.
2. Get to grips with social media, content marketing, email marketing and SEO
Think of your website as the heart of your business, but you still need to get blood to it! This is where your marketing efforts come in. Now is the time to learn as much as you can, create a buzz about your business and drive traffic to your site.
3. Join membership groups like Content Marketing Academy and Atomic
Not only will they teach you more about content and social media marketing, but they’re also great places to gain feedback, ask questions and make friends. There are plenty of membership sites out there but we’re personally part of these and they’ve transformed our business for the better!
Once you’ve underway with all of these things you can evaluate how successful your idea is. Most of the time, businesses stay within the same industry but they tweak their offering to something more desirable for their target audience. They often niche down too, offering more targeted services.
I’m not going to lie, when I started out I felt so overwhelmed with all the information out there. That’s why it’s good to start off slow without the pressure of spending huge amounts of money on a new website.
If you’re looking for helpful advice and support about web design and SEO, why not join our Facebook Group – Website Tips for Non-Techies.
2. Things Change
Businesses are constantly evolving, but nothing changes quite so quickly than in the first twelve-eighteen months of business. Imagine investing thousands in a website, only for your business to change a few months later?
You might think, not such a big deal, I’ll just change the text on my website, right?
Any good website (and, in particular, one that’s going to cost you thousands!) should be informed by certain key factors.
Things that Might Change Early On in Your Business
1. Your target market
Not just the age, sex and location of your target audience, but other stuff. Deeper stuff. Things like what issues are they facing, what’s their ultimate goal, what’s their biggest fear? Your website should be designed in a way that appeals directly to your target market.
2. Your key services
As I said before, a lot of business owners change their offering within the first twelve-eighteen months. They often niche down. In fact, we did this very thing. Over a period of five years, we’ve gone from offering web design, social media marketing, SEO, email marketing and graphic design to just WordPress web design.
3. What you want your users to do?
It’s not always as simple as ‘buy now’. Often people need a little more coaxing to invest in you, that’s why we encourage our clients to think about their users’ journey. Should they sign up to your email list first for example? If so, every page has to be geared towards this action.
These are just a few examples of what we take into consideration when we build your website. There’s a heck of a lot more that goes into it. As well as a lengthy video call with our clients, we also send them this website questionnaire and undertake our own research too.
So if you’re not clear on the answers to these questions, the likelihood is, you’re not ready to invest.
And that’s okay! It’s expected that within the first twelve months of business these things will change. If you have a website professionally designed before then, you might find yourself spending money again to put it right, or your website won’t speak to your target market. Either way, its lose/lose.
3. There’s Less Pressure
We never underestimate the cost of our website packages. £3500 – £6000 is a lot of money to spend for most small business owners, so they have to be confident they can make that money back. If you want to find out why we specifically charge what we do, then read Martin’s post, Why Are We So Expensive?
The likelihood is, investing thousands in a new website will put a dent in your business finances.
You might think, what do you care, we have the money to spend!
Well, actually, we do care. We want our clients to be successful, and you cannot gain success from a website alone. The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are well and truly over. If you invest in a website straight away, you’re already thousands down, with no knowledge of content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing or SEO behind you.
Now you have to spend your time learning about those marketing tools.
If you have an existing platform behind you, you’re at an advantage. You’ll already know how to promote your business and use content management systems. You’ll know exactly what you’re selling and who your target audience is. You might have even built up a loyal audience already. This takes the pressure off when investing in a new website because you can focus on what’s important: your business.
4. You Need to Establish Who You Are
If you’re going to invest thousands into a website, you need to understand who you are and what you stand for.
Before we design your website we ask you to describe your brand using certain words like cheeky or funny, bold or innovative. How you position yourself within the market informs everything from the design, images and copy.
Even if you think you have these nailed down, you’d be surprised how much your business will change. When we first started, we were ‘yes men’, designing websites for under a thousand pound for anyone that would come through the door. As our skills and knowledge has developed, so have we. We now see ourselves teachers in our industry.
This process takes time, and there’s a lot you need to consider when it comes to brand. Of course, this includes your logo, fonts, colours, branding and style. But it’s also your tone of voice (i.e. how you speak to your audience).
Are you formal or informal? Do you incorporate humour? Do you have a teacher relationship with your audience or more of a friend relationship?
It takes time to solidify your brand, and there’s no point having a website designed if you haven’t considered who you are and how you present yourself to your target market.
Recently, a client approached us about having a website designed. He was a brand new business owner, and instead of taking his money we recommended he set up a website himself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we’re angels here. We want our clients to be on the same page as us: with a strong sense of who they are and armed with the knowledge they need to make a successful business. He was thankful for our advice, and we’re pretty sure that down the line when he’s ready, he’ll come back to us.
Successful clients are happy clients, and they’re far more likely to trust us, work with us and recommend us in the future if they gain success from their website.
Over to You
Have you ever invested thousands in a brand new website? How did you find the process? Or perhaps this article has made you think twice about investing thousands? If so, I’d love to know your thoughts.
And don’t forget, feel free to join our FREE Facebook group to help newbies get to grips with web design and SEO – Website Tips for Non-Techies.